Expert Treatment for Extreme Sports Related Injuries

Steve Nicol

Taking part in adrenalin-fuelled activities like mountain biking, horse riding or paragliding is great for our health and well-being, but inevitably injuries do sometimes happen. When they do, it’s reassuring to know that there are highly trained experts that can help us back on our feet right on the doorstep. We asked Steve Nicol, a specialist orthopaedic trauma surgeon working in Brighton, to tell us more.

Trauma is a medical term which covers a whole spectrum of injury - from severe complex ones to relatively minor fractures. The most severely injured patients are admitted to our trauma unit at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, which has just become the Major Trauma Centre for Sussex and the South East. When fully operational, we expect to treat about 350 patients with severe and multiple injuries every year. However, much more common are the isolated less severe injuries.”

Steve is also part of Spring Orthopaedics, and offers a full private trauma service. He said: “One of the joys of living in Sussex is the opportunity for pursuing all kinds of outdoor activities – some more dangerous than others!

We’re seeing more sporting injuries, particularly from extreme sports. Kite-surfing over Brighton pier might look pretty cool, but there are undeniable risks to life and limb!

For many injuries surgery can give the best outcome

“Some minor fractures can be treated effectively with a short period in a plaster cast, but for many injuries - including fractures of the foot, ankle, around the knee, shoulder, elbow and wrist – surgery can give the best outcome, allowing an early return to work and sport. Fortunately, the majority of these do not require emergency admission to hospital, and patients are readmitted from home for the operation on a planned trauma surgery list.

Minimally invasive techniques can speed up recovery

“It’s an exciting time to be a trauma surgeon. The technology has advanced greatly over the last decade, with improvements in the design of the implants we use to fix fractures meaning that patients can often get moving and bearing their weight immediately after the operation. We often use minimally invasive techniques now, which can speed up recovery and allow an early return to work and sport.

“You can minimize the risk of serious injury by making sure that you and your equipment are in good condition. Wear protective clothing and make sure it fits properly and ensure that you are fit enough to take on the challenge of your chosen activity. You should never practice extreme sports on your own, in case something should go wrong and you need help.”